Marking their first win of the season, the Hornets beat the Langston, Okla. Lions by a score of 35-7 at Welch Stadium last Saturday. Emporia State jumped out to an early lead and never looked back.
“It’s long overdue,” said junior quarterback Tyler Eckenrode. “It feels great to come out on top today.”
Early on, the defense stepped up and forced a fumble on the Langston 13 yard line. But the offense was only able to get three points as freshman kicker Zane Guadagnolo connected on a field goal from 31 yards away. The defense proved stout en route to forcing six turnovers. With the Lions trapped on their own one-yard line, the defense forced a safety, which stretched the lead to 5-0, and gave the Hornets the ball.
“Our defense did a great job, for the first time, being opportunistic,” said Garin Higgins, head coach. “They made the best of their opportunities.”
The defense continued its dominance when they came up with a crucial stop against Langston on a fake punt attempt to take over possession at the opponents’ 22 yard line. This eventually led to a nine-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Shjuan Richardson, stretching the lead to 18-0. The defense finished off the second quarter with a string of three excellent defensive interceptions that culminated three more points.
“I was very disappointed in how we executed (offensively) in the red zone,” Higgins said. “We had some dropped balls, had some missed throws and had some protection break down. We have to improve on that.”
At the beginning of the second half, Langston marched down the field, threatening to score when senior linebacker Ben Carlson came up with an interception to swing the momentum back to the Hornets.
“(The interception) really was huge,” Carlson said. “They were driving and looking like they were going to score. Coach called some great pass coverage and we just executed it.”
The Hornets took advantage of the interception driving 55 yards and scoring a touchdown. Eckenrode hit Lion senior running back LeDarrian Page on a 21 yard touchdown strike that pushed the lead to 28-0. The Hornets put the game out of reach.
In the fourth quarter, after a long drive by Langston, the defense held strong on a fourth and goal to keep the Lions out of the end zone. The Hornets got a sack and a forced fumble as time expired.
“Today was a good day,” said defensive coordinator Bryce Saia. “We need to keep building… and from here on out, be a consistent defense like I know we can.”
The Hornets’ next opponent is the eighth ranked Washburn Ichabods in the Turnpike Tussle. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. this Saturday at Welch Stadium.